The Week When Everyone Came to Visit Florence

Everyone arriving at the same time

Seeing old friends is great, it's nice to have an excuse to abandon your normal schedule for a week and take the time to appreciate your own city. At the end of the week though, it is nice to have a little order back.

These past few days have been a constant battle between bacchanalia and penance. I don't know why it works out like this, but it seems like everyone you know always chooses the same week to visit Florence. They all want to "do Florence" like they used to but they have to pack it in in just a few days so it's just a constant party. I swear after this week is over I will never drink again.

Usually, it's the same people who come back to say hi. For whatever reason, the beauty, the walkability, or the great food and warm air, Florence is a city that seizes people's affection and begs them to come back again and again. From the perspective of someone who is always in Florence, the process of saying goodbye "for now" is a tired and sad cycle.

There's a constant cycle of people coming and going who have various levels of commitment to stay in Italy. Some couldn't make it work for visa reasons or the failure to find a decent job (or lover), and those who realize Florence as a little-big city that has only so much to offer. It makes me wonder if I'm missing out on what everyone who leaves this town is experiencing. As a foreigner (I am American so I am privilaged), it was already a struggle to lift myself onto the platform of legal Italian residence, and now that I have this stable view of Europe, it's clear that there a lot more professional opportunities outside this city. Florence is a beautiful mess that's structurally and mentally stuck in the past. As true as that may be, those who left to surrounding countries make it back to the Renaissance every now and again.

The visitee of Florence can be seen as a sort of romantic constant, stuck in a bubble of time that everyone else can step in and out of. They're right though, every time someone returns to visit and my routine is disrupted I realize how much my rhythm has adjusted to the city's. Going to the bar, the greengrocer's, or the bakery every morning, eating lunch and dinner respectively at 1 and 8 pm, and learning to complain about living here but secretly loving it. The one American friend who's visiting this week says I look just Italian now, which to me means I've been here long enough that my wardrobe has completely turned over and I've stopped trying to say "hi" to everyone like a midwestern bumpkin. I no longer have as many sneakers, leggings, and hoodies as before and instead, I have nice boots with heels and jackets that fit well. The scene from The Flying Dutchman comes to mind, where the pirates who have chosen to stay with the cursed ship slowly become absorbed into its wooden walls and the sea itself.

However, the transition full-Italian is never complete, it's quite easy to pick out Americans no matter how long they've lived here. Before I spoke a different language, it never occurred to me that people from America would have American accents. Yeehaw Italian aside, I'm half Chinese so there's always a piece that won't fit, which is true no matter where I lived, except San Francisco where being Hoppa is more common than not. I miss that.

Anyway. After years of studying art at various schools, most of my friends, in consequence, are in creative fields so when they do visit it genuinely is nice to catch up with their progress and hear about what sorts of projects they've been working on. I am proud to be in the company of so many people who persevere in such a competitive field, especially on their own terms. The common trope is that artists are prone to vices, I tend to believe that to some extent especially in weeks like these. We drink too much wine and talk for hours about our time in school, music, our projects, what sorts of paintbrushes can only be found in Florence...

Picnic in the Rose Garden

One day this week, I was in the suburbs before meeting up with a visiting Russian friend. We were to meet up for a picnic and I still needed to buy something to bring but the only place I could find open on a Sunday was a sort of penny-mart. I found a magnum bottle of red wine for like 2 Euro. It had a twist-top so I didn't even need to buy cups! When first laid eyes on that bottle I promised myself that I will never grow up.

Between hanging out and through tremendous hangovers or sbornia (sing.), I've been sending CVs out for the hell of it and trying to keep up with my portfolio on all of the platforms you can think of. It's a job to keep up with that shit, especially when you're sorting through the work of a lot of other illustrators and designers that just seem so much better than you. But in my positive American spirit, I see these moments of feeling talentless as opportunities to better myself... I say through tears...

Persistence pays off though. Despite all the slacking off this week, I was able to snag an interview, which was this morning, and it seemed to go well. It's another part-time gig to add on to my list of revolving graphic design clients. This particular interview was for graphic/marketing studio with mostly remote employees, they're looking to integrate more illustration in their designs for their impressive client list. As an illustrator/designer this would really be a fun job for me, so, fingers crossed. Graphic design isn't my first choice in work, but it's really soothing like color-coding documents or all the apps on your phone.

I'm ready for a normal week.

What I'm Working On:

Merch. for a local writer's new book for whom I've illustrated and designed the cover for. I threw in a an extra design for a pin, because we had some communication errors. Who doesn't like a nice button anyway.

"Cemetery Safari" by Claudia Vannucci

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